SQL Injection I recently posted about 500,000 sites having been subjected to SQL injection attacks. For the most part, these were old ASP sites. Frankly, I didn't realize there were that many ASP sites still in existence, let alone badly coded! However, both PHP and ASP.NET sites were attacked also. Let's be clear about this: we are talking about bad coding practices here and not about any specific security flaw per-se.

Apparently the saga continues; although I don't have exact figures, there was another rise in attacks in May. Suffice to say that Microsoft saw fit to release a security advisory (954462) on Tuesday, 06-24-2008. Microsoft also enlisted the help of HP to develop a free scanner, called Scrawlr, which can identify whether sites are susceptible to SQL injection. Microsoft also announced the availability of a SQL Injection tool; a static code analysis tool to help find SQL injection vulnerabilities in older Active Server Pages (ASP) code.

 * Microsoft Source Code Analyzer for SQL Injection Tool
 * Microsoft Security Advisory (954462)

You can find plenty of informative links on good coding practices by visiting these two sites, so I'm not going to repeat them here. There is no need for somebody to have a site that is this vulnerable. It's not about spending more money upgrading your version of ASP.NET; it's about employing responsible programmers. The tools mentioned here are basically stopgap measures to buy some time before implementing a more robust solution. What price your data?

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Web Server Attacks From the Washington Post, April 25, 2008:

Quote... Hundreds of thousands of Web sites - including several at the United Nations and in the U.K. government -- have been hacked recently and seeded with code that tries to exploit security flaws in Microsoft Windows to install malicious software on visitors' machines. Unquote...

Apparently there have been an estimated half-million attacks on different Web sites this week alone. There seems to have been a rush to judgement in trying to point the finger of blame at a recent Microsoft Security Advisory (951306). According to Bill Staples, Product Unit Manager for IIS, "Microsoft has investigated these reports and determined that the attacks are not related to the recent Microsoft Security Advisory (951306) or any known security issues related to IIS 6.0, ASP, ASP.Net or Microsoft SQL technologies."

These attacks are not related to said security advisory but are aimed at sites, on any platform, that are open to SQL Injection. What we are really seeing is a growth in SQL Injection over other types of attack. Although around for a long time now, this technique has been gaining in popularity among hackers over the last couple of years, and seems to be more popular now than cross-site scripting or buffer overflow exploits. I would argue that this would not be the case for ASP.NET sites if basic input validation and SQL parameters in combination with stored procedures were employed, as is the recommended practice.

At the very least, even if you are still using ASP and haven't time to convert to stored procedures, check your input data! All input data is evil and when designing your application you should take time to consider where else that input may be coming from, such as query parameters, cookies, etc. Watch this space...

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